Congratulations to our wonderful winners. As always, we received some well-written submissions but, we had to make a decision and here are the winners.
1st Prize: £200 Carol Stone
2nd Prize: £150 Justin Green
3rd Prize: £100 C. Winters
The Locked Door
by Carol Stone
The door was locked. Now what was she going to do?
He’d been in there for hours. Time had crawled by so very slowly. She dared not disturb him. Instead, she paced. The corridor was long with highly polished tiles, and her footsteps echoed as she paced back and forth, anything to block out the noise of the large grandfather clock that stood in the hallway. It’s incessant ticking grating on her nerves. As she paced, her eyes were drawn to the original watercolours lining the hallway, in all of them, horses, suspended in mid-air crossing ridiculously high barriers, the riders urging them on. She hated horses and she hated horse riding.
Frustrated, Miriam walked back into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Even the kitchen clock mocked her here, its loud ticking sound filling the room. A strong sense of déjà vu washed over her. Only twenty minutes had passed since she’d last put the kettle on. The discarded tea cup, still half-full, the evidence near the sink still cluttered with last night’s dishes. She should wash them but, she didn’t have it in her to do so. She felt restless, frustrated. She pulled at the 18-carat gold rope bracelet with agitation. Her thoughts, distracted, her nerves jangling and pulsating under her skin, she swallowed hard. This was so important, so incredibly important. She poured herself a hot coffee, enjoying the aroma as it invaded the kitchen and made its way down the corridor. She wandered if the aroma would seep beneath the locked door and make him emerge. Back in the corridor, she watched in anticipation. There was movement, she was sure. Papers shuffling, a chair being pushed back, scraping against the tiles. The door however, remained firmly shut.
This was a crazy idea. She shouldn’t have come. There was no need to put herself through this anguish.
There was every need you fool. The voice in her head berated her.
There had to be other options. She mulled over possible ideas as they flitted past her conscious mind and tried to grab them and hold onto them, teasing them into some sort of shape, but each idea sunk without trace leaving her just as anxious as before. She didn’t hear the door or the sound of his footsteps, just felt his presence, his shadow falling across her. She jumped and looked up, trying to hide the dread and eagerness all rolled into one, her eyes expressive.
“Well?” Did she sound nonchalant? Like it didn’t matter? He was no fool though. She watched as he leaned heavily on the table, his face serious. There was no glimmer of excitement, fondness or even pity in his steely eyes. His poker face, the one he wore to the boardroom meetings. The one he had used when he’d offered all his children the chance to come up with a concept for expansion in the family business. He’d wanted something clever, something imaginative that could be translated into the real world of business. Whoever impressed him sufficiently would see the project through to fruition and if it worked, would become the next likely CEO for when he retired. She’d been up against stiff opposition, her four brothers, all more experienced than her.
“It has potential.” He admitted slowly.
Then she saw his eyes twinkling. “You captured the essence of what I was hoping for. Congratulations Miriam.”
Relief washed over her. She’d done it. She’d finally proven herself, she’d beaten her brothers at their own game. It had only taken her 50 years to do so.
Note: We only publish the overall winning submission so that those in 2nd and 3rd places are able to publish their submissions elsewhere. Entry implies acceptance to this rule.